Cruel scammers cash in on Orlando shootings

Nightclub Shooting Florida

When a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53, the world responded with shock and outrage, but also with a desire to do anything they could to help the victims and their families. The response has restored some people's faith in human nature, but now scammers are doing what they can to erode that faith again.

In the wake of the attack, a number have used it in order to scam money from people. These have included some made up charities touting for donations, and some online fundraising sites not linked to the victims.

The IRS in the US has warned that: "It is common for scam artists to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations."

If you want to donate, they recommend researching the name of the organisation, to check it is legitimate. Beware of fake charities set up with very similar names to real ones - so check it very closely.

KnowBe4 scambusters recommend making a donation to a charity you already know well in memory of the victims.

If you want to donate direct to those affected by the charity, there are more than 100 GoFundMe pages set up purporting to raise money for the families of the victims. Some of them are definitely legitimate, including the one set up by Equality Florida, which has attracted almost $6 million - including from GoFundMe, which has donated the equivalent of its usual fees.

However, the Florida Attorney General has warned that the sheer number of pages raises concerns that not all of them are genuine. It is currently investigating them to identify any it has concerns about, and GoFundMe has pledged not to release any funds to people claiming to be raising money for victims until they prove they are connected to the victim themselves. However, they also recommend you check out a campaign carefully before donating.

The scammers are risking putting people off donating entirely, but the fundraising organisations urge people not to let the scammers win. Instead, they recommend you keep demonstrating the best of human nature, but take precautions to ensure you stay safe in the process.

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Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.
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